Lawsuit Seeks “Legal Personhood” Rights For Captive Chimps

chimpsDo basic human rights extend to other animals with human-like cognitive abilities?The New York Times reports:

Should a captive chimpanzee have the same rights as a “legal person”? That’s the debate set to unfold after an activist group filed lawsuits on behalf of four chimpanzees, asking the New York Supreme Court to grant them the “right to bodily liberty.”

“We’ll be asking judges to recognize, for the first time, that these cognitively complex, autonomous beings have the basic legal right to not be imprisoned,” said Steven M. Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project.

The four chimpanzees are all held in New York state. Tommy, 26, is living in a cage on a trailer lot in Gloversville. Kiko, 26, formerly worked in the entertainment industry and is now living in Niagara Falls on private property, where he is caged. Hercules and Leo, two young males, are used in research in the Anatomy Department at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook.

“To be a ‘legal person,’ one doesn’t need to be a human being or even a biological being. A corporation is a legal person,” wrote Joyce Tischler, co-founder of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Even if the chimpanzees don’t understand what a lawsuit is, they benefit from being directly represented, she said.

  • pacific waters

    Somehow I don’t think letting chimps roam the streets is going to work.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    That chimp in the picture exudes a powerful, calm, approachable gravitas. I’d vote for him.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      But seriously, best of intentions and all that; you know how this ends. The multinational corporations that fund human/primate communications research will discover that a full 66% of all chimpanzee hand signals translate as “Vote Romney/Ryan 2016”.

    • echar

      I like bananas, therefor he gets my vote.

    • Juan

      As would I. If Ted Nugent won’t run, I suppose a chimp is okay.

  • Spasmodius

    Please donate to the Chimpanzee Legal Fund today. Lawyers are waiting for your money.

  • Juan

    They certainly deserve “legal personhood” more than those fucking evil corporations that are currently destroying pretty much everything.
    If Monsanto and fucking Raytheon can have legal personhood, so should Bobo the chimp.

  • InfvoCuernos

    Next thing, they’ll want to get married and have voting rights.